wogma rating: Watch, but no rush (?)
Bindhaast and Tukaram director, Chandrakant Kulkarni’s latest film, Aajcha Divas Majha, is a well-acted but slightly silly political ‘dramedy’; one that is quite watchable and even fun at times, because of the on-screen tussle between Sachin Khedekar and Mahesh Manjrekar, but seldom rises above that.Read more
After his biopic on the Marathi poet-saint Sant Tukaram, director Chandrakant Kulkarni is back with something that is a little more up his alley. A dramatic, often humourous and slightly silly, take on the political and bureaucratic class of our country, and an attempt to show how sometimes all it takes is a strong will to get the most difficult of things done despite the heavily flawed system that we are a part of. Aajcha Divas Majha remains watchable primarily because of a strong anchor that is the character of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, and the performance of Sachin Khedekar who is terrific in that role.
Strong, upright, honest, slightly egotistical but also always conscientious, Vishwasrao Mohite is the current Chief Minister of Maharashtra; one who has fought off devious political manoeuvres, some from within his own party, to retain his post. Aajcha Divas Majha tells the story of one particular day in his life, when he decides to take on a system that he himself is right at the top of.
Like all character-based and dialogue driven dramas, (particularly when it comes to Indian regional films), Aajcha Divas Majha, despite ranging from silly to far-fetched to downright implausible, is also nearly continuous, indulgent fun. The humour spans the gamut from loud to campy to sharp, but it perhaps was the only way this film could have been treated for it to hold the audience for so long. Underneath the silly humour, the film is also a commentary on the manner in which the first response to any request by our politicians and bureaucrats is, “No, it can’t be done,” followed by a long-drawn period of needless paperwork, followed by invariable nepotism, scams, corruption and the likes.
My chief grouse with the film was the fact that every character in the film except for three - Chief Minister Vishwasrao Mohite, his PA, Shinde, and Mr. Rahimatpurkar, the top IAS official the CM takes on - seems to be a buffoon. Because of this, the silly humour that I mentioned earlier pervades the entire runtime of the film. Also, despite the film being well-intentioned, and the noble symbolism behind the cause that the CM takes up, the cause itself is quite absurd, and will often make you wonder about the rationale behind it.
Needless to say, it is Sachin Khedekar who walks away with top honours from this film. What he manages to do, through his character, is show us the kind of leader we need in our country. True, his character has been written to be slightly populist; even honest and strong-willed politicians in real life will rarely ever take on the system the way he does in the film. But Khedekar makes us forget this for two-and-a-little hours of our lives.
A far more real character, and almost equally well played by Mahesh Manjrekar, is that of IAS big shot, Rahimatpurkar. Representative of what ails our bureaucracy despite having a number of dynamic and intelligent people in it, he is the perfect foil to the idealism of CM Vishwasrao Mohite. Another character that wins your heart, albeit in a clearly manipulative manner, is that of Shinde, who plays the PA to the CM. Slightly reminiscent of the character of Paresh Rawal from Shankar’s ‘Nayak – The Real Hero’, he is caught between adhering to protocol, and going against the tide with the man who is his boss. Played quite well by Hrishikesh Joshi, who always has a pleasing presence anyway, he often makes you smile.
A small word on the late Rajen Kothari, who was the cinematographer of this film. A man who shot so many films that have gone against the commercial norms of our film industry, his work in the film is good as usual, though I suspect that digital capture and projection didn’t do justice to it. His presence, of course, will sorely be missed in the industry.
Aajcha Divas Majha isn’t a great film by any stretch of imagination. In fact, only the truly generous would go so far as to even call it a good film. What it does manage to do though, is rarely lose the attention of the audience because, let’s face it, we love seeing our political and bureaucratic class take each other on. It had the potential to be a seminal film on Indian politics, but never even goes close to fulfilling that potential. Still, it makes for a fun watch.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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